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Iraq Violence Claims 3 GIs

Iraq's cascade of violence claimed more American lives, with a bomb attack on a military convoy in Baghdad early Monday killing one U.S. soldier and gunmen slaying two others in attacks hours earlier.

Insurgents threw a homemade bomb at a U.S. convoy in northern Baghdad early Monday, killing a soldier, said Sgt. Patrick Compton, a spokesman for the military.

Late Sunday, two assailants fired on another U.S. military convoy killing another soldier. Troops returned fire, killing one of the attackers and wounding the other, Compton said. The wounded suspect was taken into custody.

In the third fatal attack, an assailant shot a U.S. soldier in the head at close range as he waited to buy a soft drink at Baghdad University at midday Sunday.

Since President Bush declared the war over on May 1st, nearly 30 American soldiers have been killed in hostile actions, reports CBS News Correspondent David Hawkins.

In other developments:

  • In Britain, a parliamentary committee sharply criticized the government's handling of intelligence on Iraqi weapons but cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications chief of "improper influence" in drafting a controversial intelligence dossier.
  • Eleven Turkish special forces returned to northern Iraq Monday after their release by the U.S. military, ending a standoff that threatened relations between the NATO allies. U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne took the Turkish forces into custody Friday in Sulaymaniyah over an alleged plot to harm Iraqi Kurdish civilian officials in the north. Turkey has denied any such plot.
  • Time magazine reports U.S. soldiers looted and vandalized the main airport in Baghdad. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials interviewed by the magazine, troops stole perfume and watches from a duty free shop at the airport, damaged aircraft and wrote graffiti.
  • The recording of Saddam Hussein aired Friday is probably authentic, CIA officials said. But the poor quality of the recording prevents absolute certainty. In the recording, the speaker purporting to be Saddam said he is still in Iraq and directing attacks on American forces there. He called on Iraqis to resist the U.S.-led occupation.
  • Key Iraqi political factions were supposed to meet to discuss whether to join a U.S. named governing council that will choose delegates for a constitutional convention and nominate Iraqis to play some role in the postwar administration. A key question, reports the Los Angeles Times, is whether a main Shiite group will sign on.
  • The military announced the end of a seven-day sweep dubbed Sidewinder, in which 30 Iraqis were killed and 282 detained, while 28 U.S. soldiers were wounded. The military said it confiscated ammunition stocks and hundreds of weapons.

    U.S. troops on patrol in Baghdad and other areas have been attacked several times a day, and Iraqi police and civilians perceived to be working with the occupying forces also have been targeted.

    In the most serious such attack, U.S. Army Maj. William Thurmond said it was too early to tell whether a pattern was emerging that would suggest insurgents are targeting foreign civilians, but he said such a strategy could thwart news gathering and humanitarian relief efforts.

    "Hopefully they're isolated events and we won't have to face them in the future," Thurmond said. "It might work to the advantage of someone who's trying to fight the coalition."

    Con Coughlin, an expert on Iraq and author of the book Saddam: King of Terror, told the CBS News Early Show that Saddam is probably playing a role in the attacks on Americans.

    "I have no doubt that he's alive … no doubt that he's behind all these attacks that have escalated alarmingly over the last few weeks," said Coughlin, who noted that other suspects — like the Shiites in southern Iraq — were not causing much trouble.

    The U.S. last week offered $25 million for information leading to Saddam's capture. But Coughlin points out that Saddam may have access to as much as $40 billion, and be able to offer payouts of his own. "$25 million is small change compared to what Saddam's got to play with," he said.

    One of the hot spots in recent days is Ramadi. Four soldiers were wounded late yesterday when a grenade hit their convoy. Several Iraqis were reported injured, and at least one killed.

    Tension has been ratcheted up in the town since a bomb blast on Saturday killed seven Iraqi police recruits as they graduated from a U.S.-taught training course. Dozens more were injured.

    The U.S. military blamed the attack on pro-Saddam Hussein insurgents seeking to target those working with the Americans, but many in Ramadi said they thought the Americans themselves were behind the incident.

    The killing of the U.S. soldier waiting to buy a soft drink Sunday was similar to the slaying of a young British freelance cameraman, who was shot in the head outside a Baghdad museum on Saturday.

    In a similar incident, an assailant with a pistol shot and critically injured a U.S. soldier in the neck on June 27 as he shopped on a Baghdad street.

    On Saturday, insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the United Nation's International Organization for Migration office in Mosul, 240 miles northwest of Baghdad. The grenade slammed into a wall and damaged several cars, said Hamid Abdel-Jabar, a spokesman for the U.N. special representative in Iraq.

    The death of the British cameraman and the grenade attack on a U.N. compound raised concern that Iraq's worsening insurgency - until now targeting only coalition troops and Iraqis accused of U.S. collaboration - has spread to Westerners in general.

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